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Testing young hearts: Student-athlete deaths have doctors urging cardiac evaluations

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- Harris McKey, a Dunham High School sophomore who plays on the basketball and football teams, gets an ultrasound Wednesday at the Our Lady of the Lake Medical Plaza.

Chad Falgout’s heart pounds when he sprints down the basketball court, but the 14-year-old doesn’t pay much attention to his most important muscle. Even when he hears stories about student-athletes collapsing on the court or dying in a locker room, he never considers his heart. “You should, but I haven’t really thought about it,” said… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Feb. 23, 2015

What is meant by the term “person-centered care” when used as an amenity for a long-term care setting? Person-centered care is centered around the individual’s personal choices; developing and assessing care to make sure it is appropriate to his/her needs and involves putting the individual and his/her family at the heart of all decisions. It… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Feb. 23, 2015

What side effects can chemotherapy treatment for cancer cause? Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells that multiply rapidly, but these drugs can also harm healthy cells, causing side effects. During chemotherapy you may have no side effects or just a few. The kinds of side effects you have depend… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Feb. 23, 2015

WHAT: 3 Lives Blood Drive WHEN: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26 WHERE: Remington College, 10551 Coursey Blvd., Baton Rouge INFORMATION: DETAILS: The blood drive is being conducted with LifeShare Blood Centers. 3 Lives blood drive is a national effort to recruit minority blood donors and help supply… Continue reading →

Giving your heart a break: American Heart Month is a great time to evaluate risks and how to avoid them

While it’s always a good time to think about your heart, February is officially American Heart Month. One out of every four deaths — about 600,000 — in the United States is related to heart disease, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. Louisiana is part of what researchers have called the “heart… Continue reading →

Alzheimers Q&A, Feb. 16, 2015

Should I tell my mom that she has Alzheimer’s disease? If your mom has been experiencing memory loss or other symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease, then, most likely, she intuitively suspects something is wrong, and, therefore, has a right to know the truth and be fully informed of the situation. While you may dread telling… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Feb. 16, 2015

What are common side effects of radiation therapy for cancer treatment? According to the National Cancer Institute, radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. Radiation works by damaging the DNA in cancer cells so they stop dividing or die. There are two… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Feb. 16, 2015

WHAT: Session on high blood pressure WHEN: Noon, Monday, Feb. 23. Registration starts at 11 a.m. WHERE: Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge REGISTRATION: Deadline to register is Feb. 20. (866) 220-0418 or DETAILS: Dr. Garland Green will speak at this free event, sponsored by Peoples Health and… Continue reading →

Working on the playground: LSU Community Playground Project works with schools, students to maximize play

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Ric Kearny, left, and Tommy Nguyen move a slide on the new Bernard Terrace Elementary School playground, which is the 30th in the parish to be built from designs by LSU biological engineering students of Marybeth Lima, who finds the funding to get the play spaces constructed.

When it came time to design a new play area for Bernard Terrace Elementary School, the planners looked to the authorities — the students. And the youngsters wanted to be able to compete against each other on the brightly colored slide, climbing bars and stairs. “It’s great for the kids,” said Marybeth Lima,… Continue reading →

The question of vitamins: Nutritional supplements are big business, but are they doing us any good?

Advocate staff photo by Kyle PevetoPhoto illustration of vitamins.

A vitamin a day can be a huge waste of money, some doctors say. Or it could contribute to good health. Many medical professionals agree that all the nutrition a person needs can be gotten through a proper diet, but a lot of Americans don’t pay that much attention to what they eat.… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Feb. 9, 2015

WHAT: Heart Healthy seminar WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11 REGISTRATION: Free; call (225) 673-4255 and ask for the concierge desk. DETAILS: Dr. Kay Solar, dietician Lori Gardiner and fitness expert Rebecca Penniman will provide information on how you can protect your heart with… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Feb. 9, 2015

Should I follow a Mediterranean diet to lower my risk of Alzheimer’s disease? The Mediterranean diet has been the subject of intensive research for more than 50 years. The traditional diet in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, which include Italy, France, Morocco and Greece, was considered a “poor man’s” diet as it was developed over… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Feb. 9, 2015

My brother is waiting on staging results for his cancer. What does that mean? Stages describe the severity of the cancer based upon the location and amount of tumors in the body. Doctors evaluate where the cancer started, called the primary site, and if it has spread, or metastasized, to other parts of the body.… Continue reading →

What the health?: New app lists inspection reports of La. eateries

ORG XMIT: BAT1501201514090416

Thanks to mobile devices, it’s incredibly easy to find a place to eat, and fairly simple to learn what people think about it. Peeking inside the kitchen door? That’s another story. Not any more. “What the Health,” a free mobile app that links to health inspection reports of all Louisiana restaurants, went online Jan. 10. Created… Continue reading →

No need to go it alone: Group works to connect families living with severe allergies to develop a community where everyone understands

Advocate staff photo by KYLE PEVETO --Social worker and therapist Carolyn Ellender, left, takes a raffle ticket from Haley Pittenger and Kadence White at the food allergy conference the girls planned to bring together those living with severe allergies.

A severe food allergy makes life a little harder for 11-year-old Haley Pittenger. She can’t eat the same foods as kids in the school lunchroom or trick-or-treat for candy at Halloween. And she’s usually the only girl carrying a life-saving shot of epinephrine everywhere she goes. Most of her classmates know about her dangerous peanut… Continue reading →

New tools helping in fight childhood obesity

A new set of tools to treat childhood obesity is being dispersed to doctors, clinics and hospitals across Louisiana. The Baton Rouge-based Pennington Biomedical Research Center has developed the Childhood Obesity Treatment Toolkit, a website and printed guide for medical professionals to better understand causes of and treatments for obesity. Currently online at,… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Feb. 2, 2015

WHAT: How to Love Your Heart (Cholesterol and Triglycerides) session WHEN: Noon, Wednesday, Feb. 4. Registration starts at 11 a.m. WHERE: Family Health Center, second-floor Conference Rooms A & B, 3801 North Boulevard, Baton Rouge REGISTRATION: (866) 220-0418 or Deadline to register is Tuesday, Feb. 3. DETAILS: Dr. Charles Edward Geno… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Feb. 2, 2015

What are some good books to read to educate myself on Alzheimer’s disease? There are numerous books and materials that are helpful in gaining more knowledge about the disease and also those that offer practical strategies and tips for caregiving. Following are some of the top books that are excellent resources in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Feb. 2, 2015

What can you tell me about the Patient Bill of Rights? While there is no one “Bill of Rights” for patients, you can find many different variations that have evolved since their inception in the 1970s. The Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 has made some changes to the generally accepted Patient Bill of Rights. All… Continue reading →

Resolution month: Losing weight is the most popular resolution, but don’t lose money too

Associated Press file photo -- Fitness Connexion trainer Nicolette Isaacs instructs Katie Barling on how to use a weight machine for a step up exercise at the gym in Bloomington, Ill. January, the start of New Year's resolution month, sees a healthy uptick in sign-ups at gyms and specialized studios offering such things as Pilates, kickboxing and yoga. But money-saving expert Andrea Woroch in Bakersfield, California, said recent statistics show 67 percent of people who join don't use their memberships at all.

— How’s that new year, new you fitness pledge going? January, the start of New Year’s resolution month, sees a healthy uptick in sign-ups at gyms and specialized studios offering such things as Pilates, kickboxing and yoga. But money-saving expert Andrea Woroch in Bakersfield, California, said recent statistics show 67 percent of people… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 26, 2015

Does Alzheimer’s disease cause disruptive sleep patterns? Yes, the sleep/wake cycle of the affected individual becomes more disturbed as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. Some people may sleep for prolonged periods during the day and night, and others may wake often during the night and become more confused. The amount of sleep disruption usually depends on the… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 26, 2015

What are the scans a doctor might use to diagnosis cancer? The term scan is usually used in reference to a type of diagnostic imaging. Diagnostic imaging refers to several different technologies doctors use to look inside the body for clues about the type of cancer a patient might have and to find its exact location.… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Jan 26, 2015

WHAT: A running and riding event WHEN: 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 WHERE: BREC Farr Park Levee, 6402 River Road, Baton Rouge COST/REGISTER: $20 per team. Preregistration required. Call (225) 272-9200, ext. 436, or email DETAILS: Must be 12 or older to participate. Teams of two will ride and bike 6.2 miles.… Continue reading →

High on Yoga: Unata aerial yoga eases joints, allows deeper practice poses

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Student Reba Robertson, left, hangs in her aerial silk hammock as instructor Luciana Harris bring the  Unnata aerial yoga class to a meditative close.

Aerial yoga can twist your body into gravity-defying positions and stretch muscles that have been tight for years, experienced practitioners say. But first, you have to trust a delicate-looking loop of fabric that hangs from the ceiling. At an introductory workshop for this new form of an ancient practice, 35-year-old Deanna Dino… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 19, 2015

What is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease? Creutzfeldt-Jakob, (pronounced kroits-felt-yah-kawp), or CJD, causes a type of dementia that advances rapidly. It is a rare, degenerative and fatal brain disorder characterized by progressive dementia, blindness and involuntary movement. It is one of what is called “prion” diseases, which occurs when the prion protein, which is found… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 19, 2015

I will be having a biopsy soon to test for cancer. What will happen during the biopsy? A biopsy is one of the diagnostic tests a doctor may use to analyze suspicious cells. The type of biopsy requested depends on the type of cancer suspected or the location of the cells in question. According to… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Jan. 19, 2015

WHAT: Geaux Free, a free tobacco cessation counseling program WHEN: Weekly one-hour sessions scheduled through March 18. Noon and evening options available. WHERE: Various locations throughout the greater Baton Rouge area INFORMATION: or (225) 215-1274 DETAILS: Sponsored by Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center.… Continue reading →

Running the weight in half: Baton Rouge's Karen Vornkahl finds running to be just what she needed to drop 150 lbs.

Photo provided by KAREN VORNKAHL -- Karen Vornkahl lost 150 pounds by exercising and changing her eating habits. On Sunday, she will run in  the Louisiana Marathon, her first-time tackling a 26.2-mile race.

Karen Vornkahl doesn’t expect to be at the front of the pack in Sunday’s Louisiana Marathon. For her first 26.2-mile run, Vornkahl is focused on crossing the finish line. She compares the effort with the 20 months she focused on losing 150 pounds. “It didn’t matter when I got there,” said the… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 12, 2015

Is there a link between Alzheimer’s disease and Down syndrome? According to Michael Rafii, director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at the University of California at San Diego, “people with Down syndrome represent the world’s largest population of individuals predisposed to getting Alzheimer’s disease. By age 40, 100 percent of all individuals with Down syndrome… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 12, 2015

What can I do to make sure I don’t get cancer? While there is nothing that can guarantee that an individual will not get cancer, there are steps we can all do to help reduce our risk. There are several lifestyle behaviors that have been identified as possible risk factors. If a person can limit or… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Jan. 12, 2015

WHAT: Bayou Community Health Center has partnered with Help Care Services to sponsor Free Rides to the Doctor WHEN: Monday, Jan. 19. Deadline to schedule a ride is Friday, Jan. 16. APPOINTMENTS: Call (225) 333-7042 or email DETAILS: All participants must be ambulatory. Anyone under 18 years old must be accompanied… Continue reading →

Bend don’t break: Flexibility key to achieving New Year’s resolutions, experts say

Photo by MetroSource -- To achieve your New Year's goal to eat better, try adding healthy foods, like salad, rather than just cutting calories.

Your New Year’s resolution probably won’t last the month. Americans are notoriously bad at keeping those goals made on Jan. 1, according to researchers. Half of the resolutions set on Jan. 1 are history by the 31st, according to a 2013 study by a University of Scranton psychologist. Only 8 percent of Americans… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Jan. 5, 2015

How can I distinguish between normal aging memory loss and dementia? Do you sometimes misplace your keys or eyeglasses? Forget someone’s name momentarily? Occasionally have to search for a word or phrase that is on the “tip of your tongue”? As we age, slight changes in our intellect begin to occur. Simple forgetfulness, or “senior moments,”… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Jan. 5, 2015

Can you tell me more about the basics of cancer? Cancers can begin in any cells that make up tissues and organs in the body. Normal cells grow and die in a controlled way. When cells grow old, they die and new cells take their place. Sometimes cells keep growing even though the body doesn’t need… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Dec. 30, 2014

WHAT: Meeting of Survivors of Suicide Support Group WHERE: Baton Rouge Crisis Intervention Center, 4837 Revere Ave., Baton Rouge DETAILS: Free support group for people whose lives have been… Continue reading →

Winter workouts: With our mild La. winters, there’s no reason to hibernate from fitness

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Walking is a great way to get out in the sunshine and exercise. Elizabeth Vowell stretches after her run/walk.

It’s tempting to just curl up on the couch all winter, binge on old television series and wait for spring. But the state of Louisiana is blessed with too many mild winter days to quit exercising, says Jheri Bellard Corb, the fitness guru for the Baton Rouge General’s employees. “We only have about 10 to 15… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Dec. 29, 2014

How should I handle my oncology appointments when someone cannot accompany me? It is essential to understand that you are always your best advocate and the most important member of your medical team. Your physician and other members of your treatment team need your input to provide you the best medical care possible. If you… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Dec. 29, 2014

How can I develop a more positive life perspective when I am witnessing the fast progression of my loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease? It is so difficult to watch a loved one deteriorate, mentally and physically, especially through the long and arduous journey of Alzheimer’s disease. Even more difficult is trying to maintain a positive outlook on… Continue reading →

Health Calendar for Dec. 15, 2014

WHAT: Alzheimer’s Caregivers Support Group meeting WHEN: 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15 WHERE: Jones Creek Regional Branch, 6222 Jones Creek Road, Baton Rouge DETAILS: Dianne Miller will lead an information-sharing meeting with caregivers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area sponsors this free and public program.… Continue reading →

How to handle ‘holiday humbug’: A little structure can help seasonal stress


Get decorations from attic. Check. Put ornaments on tree. Check. Bake cookies for neighbors. Check. Find perfect gift for best friend. Check. Clean house from top to bottom. (Still working on that one.) If you’re like most of us, the holiday season often presents an usually long list of “things to do.”… Continue reading →

Getting baby-friendly: New Ochsner program promotes benefits of breast-feeding


New mothers who give birth at Ochsner Hospital and breast-feed their babies know they have a cheering squad behind them. “Starting from the first visit, we talk about birth preferences and bring up breast-feeding,” said Bethanie Genre, a nurse and midwife at Ochsner. The subject is brought up again when the woman is 28 weeks… Continue reading →

Health Calendar, Dec. 8, 2014

Advocate file photo -- Join the fun of the Santa Fun Run on Saturday before the Cortana Kiwanis Club Christmas Parade downtown.

WHAT: Enjoy a walk and play bingo.… Continue reading →

Cancer Q&A, Dec. 8, 2014

What are the best ways for me to help a good friend who was just diagnosed with cancer? Friends and family members of a cancer patient often want to help, but are not sure how and the patient may not know what sort of help the person is willing to give. It is sometimes hard… Continue reading →

Alzheimer’s Q&A, Dec. 8, 2014

What is Pick’s disease? Pick’s disease, or frontotemporal dementia (FTD), is a less common form of dementia that damages the frontal part of the brain, and a significant form of dementia in individuals under the age of 65. First described in 1892 by Arnold Puck, Pick’s disease causes an irreversible decline in an individual’s functioning… Continue reading →

Health Herbs: Herbalists say cures, natural remedies have real scientific value

Photo provided by the LSU AgCenter --Elderberry bush

Long before HMOs and antibiotics, people in south Louisiana relied on all-natural cures pulled from the forests and bayous. Cajun traiteurs, or faith healers, and before them the Native Americans who made the Gulf Coast their home used native plants to treat everything from fevers to spider bites. Many of these plants, from elderberry… Continue reading →